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Green Pastures (Sous-titres français)
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"Gangway for de Lawd God Jehovah!" Despite racial stereotypes and a naive, backward vision of "Negro Heaven," The Green Pastures remains an important, controversial, and still-entertaining milestone in African American popular culture. Because this 1936 spiritual musical embraces all of the black stereotypes that were prevalent in its time, Warner Home Video has appropriately included a disclaimer regarding the political incorrectness of the film's then-common racial prejudices, stressing the importance of acknowledging these stereotypes as opposed to pretending they never existed. With this understanding, The Green Pastures still endures as a classic American folk drama, based on Marc Connelly's Pulitzer Prize-wining Broadway production (suggested by Roark Bradford's southern sketches "Ol' Man Adam an' His Chillun"), in which several Old Testament stories are performed as they might be imagined by black Sunday-school child in the Depression-era South. It's an all-black vision of heaven as a perpetual fish-fry, full of black angels and cherubs eating catfish and smoking 10-cent "see-gars," where "De Lawd" (Rex Ingram) presides over the tales of creation: Noah and the Flood; Joshua at Jericho; Abraham, Isaac and Jacob; Adam and Eve; Moses and Pharaoh; etc. With heavenly accompaniment by the Hall Johnson Choir, these Bible stories play like a lavish fantasy revival, and while the stereotypical images and all-black colloquialisms may seem absurdly regressive from the perspective of latter-day enlightenment, there's no denying that The Green Pastures is still a transcendently joyful celebration of faith. As a relic of its time, it's a vivid (and for some, still uncomfortable) reminder that racial stereotypes--even in a joyful gospel context--can teach us a lot about where we've been, and where we've yet to go. --Jeff Shannon
On the DVD
The Green Pastures is accompanied by an excellent DVD commentary in which actor/director LeVar Burton and African American cultural scholars Herb Boyd and Ed Guerrero (author of Framing Blackness: The African American Image in Film) place the film in proper historical context. Burton candidly explains why he could never watch Green Pastures in its entirety until he gained the detached perspective of an actor/director, while Boyd and Guerrero relate many of the precedents and milestones that inform such '30s-era movies as The Green Pastures and Cabin in the Sky. Entertaining and informative, their commentary is essential listening for anyone seeking an enlightened perspective on racial stereotypes of the past. Also included, for similar historical appreciation, are two Vitaphone shorts from the early 1930s: "Rufus Jones for President" is a lively "two-reeler" (20 minutes) in which the 7-year-old future Rat Pack star Sammy Davis Jr. sings and dances (along with blues great Ethel Waters) as a young boy who fantasizes about becoming President of the United States. "An All-Colored Vaudeville Show" delivers just what the title promises: a stage revue of black performers including Broadway star Adelaide Hall and the legendary tap-dancing Nicholas Brothers. Both shorts represent all that was good--and bad--about Depression-era show business as a vibrant showcase for African American performers and the social conditions through which they endured. --Jeff Shannon
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Top Customer Reviews
The cast is spectacular, the sets charming and beautiful. It tells the story of creation, Adam and Eve, Noah ect, with a child-like simplicity. Often hilarious, sometimes very poignant and moving but always reverent, it illustrates what has given African Americans the strength to survive the tremendous struggles we have faced as a people. A simple, steadfast faith in God, who, for many of us, is as real as the sun, flowers, storms, and just as much a part of our every day lives. It is an awesome movie, and one that I think every one should see, at least once.
The memorable scenes are too numerous to record, ranging from the powerful (De Lawd, in plantation-owner finery, strolling through heaven, chanting "Has you been redeemed? Has you been baptized?...") to the hilarious (the angel Gabriel, putting his lips to the horn, as he anticipates De Lawd's wrath).
A wonderful family film.
I would love to see this & other classics of it's time being replayed on todays television a lot more frequently. To me, todays black film makers are to reluctant to create films of life, in much lesser, simpleminded & wholesome environment. I recommend for all ages,to be a " must see " motion picture.
teenager. I taped it off t.v. several years later. It was hard
finding the correct name. I now own a legal copy!
I had the pleasure of showing my parents this movie in '99 before they passed away. The writers take on the creation, as viewed through a black man's eyes was awesome.When God said, let me rare back and pass a miracle." we all just laughed! When God created heaven and earth and there was just too much firmament, I thought we would all need CPR. It is a great family movie!
Thanks for carrying the oldies, Amazon!
Most recent customer reviews
The first time I saw this movie I was about 15 yrs old and it was being shown late at night on AMC. I stayed up until 6am watching this movie and I have never forgotten it. Read morePublished on Sept. 5 2002 by Tanya
Having seen this movie on tv when I was 14 years old, I never came to forget it. I've been very lucky finding it here at Amazon and I'm now hoping for this movie to appear on DVD,... Read morePublished on June 16 2002 by R. Lichtendahl
My wife and I were searching the channels when I came across this gem! This is probably the funnest piece of cinema next to the "The Nutty Professor", "The... Read morePublished on Feb. 26 2001
This is one of the greatest movies of all time in my opinion. I am very pleased it has lasted and not been blacklisted like Disney's 'Song Of The South'. Read morePublished on Feb. 5 2001 by Barry R. Furman
This is one of the sweetest films I have ever seen. It was on late at night and I had to wake up my wife to watch it with me. Read morePublished on Dec 14 2000 by Edward W. Slayton
I am interested in blk film from the early years. I first saw this film on TCM. Didnt know what to expect but was immediately taken. Read morePublished on Dec 9 2000 by J. Hill
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